Accepted paper:

(Meta)modelling the future: diagrammatics for creating common worlds


Toby Austin Locke (Goldsmiths College)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the diagrammatic qualities of experiments with alternative social models through an ethnography of the construction of a social centre in a disused building. Using collectively produced visual materials, it examines how diagrammatic fields function in the creation of futures.

Paper long abstract:

In 2014 a group of activists obtained a rent-free lease on an abandoned and derelict building in South East London. Following the roaming explorations of the New Cross Commoners, the aim was to experiment with political and economic models of commoning in order to create a self-organised neighbourhood resource. The process unfolded as a physically, emotionally and intellectually intense questioning of the possibility of imagining and creating a common world independent to the hegemonic structures of state and capital.

As part of this process, a large number of visual materials were collectively produced—diagrams, drawings, maps and scribblings. This paper will use some of these materials in order to ask how these diagrams function in the imagining and construction of common worlds, and how those common worlds emerge through diagrammatic operations. These visual materials will be taken as one component of broader diagrammatic processes which seek possible cartographies of the future.

Drawing on the diagrammatic practices of FĂ©lix Guattari, a thinker who was very influential on several members of the collective and the subject of a number of workshops, the visual materials will be thought about not as representations, but rather as sites of creation and production. The 'relational reductions' these materials enacted are the counterpoint of an expansive and exploratory gesture that sought to open up new horizons of possibilities through what Guattari termed 'metamodelling'. The diagram thus becomes part of a machine for decoding contemporary political impasses, with a corresponding exploration of the possibilities for self-organised recoding, or 'singularisation'.

panel Pol06
Diagrams of revolution: an experiment with social and material morphologies